Islamic Help is preparing to deliver nearly £6 million of medical aid to war-torn Iraq.
The charity has organised the distribution of vital medicines in the Anbar region where more than 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of the escalating violence.
Anbar, in the west of Iraq, has been the scene of heavy fighting since January between government forces and rebels. Fears of deteriorating security have worsened in the last few weeks since fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have advanced from the north towards the capital Baghdad.
Islamic Help is to carry out a two-stage programme in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank after securing the medicines from the USA. They were shipped in containers to Jordan and are now being prepared for distribution at health centres across Anbar.
“Unfortunately the situation in Iraq is continuing to deteriorate and as the United Nations has warned it’s becoming harder for humanitarian agencies to reach those in need,” said Islamic Help’s chief executive officer Saif Ahmad.
The problems have been compounded because hospitals and water plants have been shelled, and last month more than 72,000 people were forced from their homes after fighters breached a dam in the Abu Ghraib district and caused mass flooding.
More than two-thirds of the 300,000 displaced in Anbar are living in schools, while others have been forced to seek refuge in tents, communal shelters and even partly-constructed buildings.
“The health situation, along with food and water availability, is of major concern and we’re hoping that our programme will help alleviate the situation for some of those who are suffering,” said Mr Ahmad.
“This medical aid package, which includes antibiotics and children’s medicines and is worth US $10 million, is coming from UMR which is based in the United States and we’re making arrangements with health centres in Anbar to ensure that it directly reaches those who most need it.
“We’re very honoured to be working with organisations like IDB and UMR (United Muslim Relief) on a project of this scale which can bring hope and relief to so many thousands of people. It’s fraught with risk but we’re determined to make the most of this opportunity and get aid to some of the most vulnerable in Iraq.”